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IN LOWERCASE | 50 and Relevant

I have always had a dumbfounded expression whenever a Star Trek reference has been made around me; I am not the most avid sci-fi fan, nor do I even understand what the Star Trek craze is all about (yes, I have received questioning looks). When my Residence Hall Director, Eric, announced we would be watching an episode at our RA staff meeting, I didn’t qute understand how this related to the usual theme of our discussions, which usually revolve around raging social debates and issues. He mentioned the series turning fifty this year, and I assumed this meeting would be a tiny break from our usual motif.

We watched “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, where the ship encounters two duo-chromatic aliens who bring their own conflict onboard. The overly theatrical acting and lack of fancy special effects aside, the subtle social and political connotations that still hold for the present day political scenario quite frankly, left me astonished. My apologies to the avid Trekkers reading this blog who may shrug this off  as me stating the obvious, but this undertone is probably what brings together Trekkers and non-trekkers alike. Despite the delivery of the social commentary being somewhat self-righteous and simplified and  my limited exposure to Star Trek, it feels like the tumult therein resonates immensely with the struggles that characterize the times we live in.

The episode presents a hauntingly similar parallel to the hatred and bigotry that seems to crop up ever too often these days. The two aliens both have skin that’s black on one side and white on the other, but what serves as the root of their hatred is the sides that they are black and white on. The narrative picks up on deeper issues of what closely resembles racial and class struggles – the classic oppressor versus oppressed – and goes on to paint an extremely dire picture of what happens when this struggles consumes a people’s existence. After the harrowing conflict onboard, the two discover their home completely annihilated by the same hatred and bigotry.

This is probably an extremely simplified version of skirmishes that we read about too frequently for something that interestingly, ought to have be “primitive thinking.” It isn’t my place to ascertain whether or not our plant will also be “dead […] because of hate.” With the climate within the country and abroad having come to what it is, I feel increasingly more naive every time I assert that I am the “idealistic dreamer” who hopes that differences can and will be put aside. What struck out the most was the overdrawn chase that the two aliens have at the end to continue their fight on the destroyed planet.

Spock’s words, “To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints, it is not logical,” rang beyond the ending credits.

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1 comment

  • I agree with your column and the importance of rejecting “the hatred and bigotry that seems to crop up ever too often these days.” One form is implicit in the title of your column, ’50 and Relevant’. Many Cornell undergraduates hold preconceived views of people who are 50 years old and older that evoke hatred and bigotry that is unwarranted. Some undergraduates assume that old people are not tech savy and are generally clueless, even though most of the pioneers that built the tech revolution are over 50 by now. Some undergraduates assume that they are against social justice and have no sympathy for the plight of Cornell undergraduates who are experiencing the same academic and financial pressures that have been faced by every generation of Cornell students. The team that created the episode of Star Trek you discussed are now all in their 70s.

    Perhaps the best lesson to be drawn from your column is for Sun readers to approach people 50 and over with empathy rather than hatred and bigotry. Your readers will be age 50 all too soon.

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